Local tattoo artist Jeremy McIntosh touched many lives

  • Family and friends gather to remember the life of local tattoo artist Jeremy McIntosh last week in Buckland. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Family and friends gather for a meal and to remember the life of local tattoo artist Jeremy McIntosh last week in Buckland. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Leia Cardin holds her 5-year-old daughter Gwendolen at their home on Ashfield Road in Buckland. The little girl says she loved having double breakfasts with her late father, Jeremy McIntosh. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Floyd White looks through a photo album while family and friends gather to remember the life of local tattoo artist Jeremy McIntosh last week in Buckland. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Before his sudden death, Jeremy McIntosh enjoyed blacksmithing, creating these masks and helmets. “A couple of years ago, he took a class from Morrell Metalsmiths in Colrain and he never looked back,” says his wife, Leia Cardin. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2019 11:05:38 PM
Modified: 11/29/2019 11:05:28 PM

BUCKLAND — When 7-year-old Kincade McIntosh, his big, warm eyes fixed on his mom, entered his kitchen one recent cold, windy fall evening, his mother asked him what he wanted to say about his dad.

Kincade replied, “I love Papa. I really like to hang out and play games and watch ‘The Flash.’”

Her sweet, rambunctious 5-year-old daughter Gwendolen followed, answering, “I love the double breakfasts with him,” when she was asked the same question.

Leia Cardin and her children lost their husband and father, local tattoo artist Jeremy McIntosh, suddenly and unexpectedly at their home on Ashfield Road in Buckland on Tuesday, Oct. 29, and Cardin said they are still in shock, reeling from the tragedy.

The 46-year-old McIntosh was the owner of Pygmalion Tattoo in Greenfield since 2002, a graduate of Mohawk Trail Regional School who attended Greenfield Community College. His family and friends, who gathered that evening to have tacos and discuss his life, described him as kind, honest, a jokester, impatient at times, magical and someone who touched a lot of lives, literally and figuratively. They said skin and metal were his canvases.

“He was super obsessed with our yard,” said Cardin, who said she just never got around to changing her last name. “It’s an amazing, gorgeous yard. It was a huge undertaking, but he loved working on it all day, listening to his fantasy books on tape with headphones.”

Cardin said her husband loved being covered in weeds, brush and grass. She said like everything he did, his yard became another canvas.

“One of the biggest things he got into over the last few years was blacksmithing,” she said. “A couple of years ago, he took a class from Morrell Metalsmiths in Colrain and he never looked back. He created all sorts of things, most recently, an owl helmet. It was really tough getting him in and out of it, but he loved wearing it.”

Floyd White, his business partner of 17 years, said he believes if McIntosh had found blacksmithing first, he would not have become a tattoo artist, though he was a really good one.

“He loves creating,” he said.

A big personality

Throughout the evening, people would move between past and present tense when talking about McIntosh. When asked why, John Pelletier, McIntosh’s best friend replied through tears, “It only happened three weeks ago.”

Leia Cardin followed with, “He was such a big personality, there’s so much of him around here, and it still feels that way sometimes.”

“He was so kind and always will be,” McIntosh’s sister-in-law Hana Cardin said. “None of that is stopped in death.”

All agreed that it is easier for them to remember McIntosh has died than to realize they’ll never see him again at functions, events, or simply when they wanted to stop by Pygmalion and say “Hi,” because he was the “life of the party.”

Pelletier said he met McIntosh through an ex-girlfriend.

“Jeremy was living in the ‘yellow house’ in Greenfield at the time,” Pelletier said. “It became our frat house.”

When McIntosh married Cardin, Pelletier served as his best man.

“He made even the people he didn’t like feel special,” Pelletier said. “He had a gift. He had many gifts. He understood people inside and out, and he was an artist in every medium.”

His friends, family and wife also said he loved attention. They talked about the time he hula-hooped naked in his front yard in Greenfield. Police were called and when they arrived, they shined their light on McIntosh, shook their heads and drove away. Another time, McIntosh skateboarded down Chapman Street in Greenfield wearing only chaps.

They also described him as a “dancing machine.” They could never hold him back once his hips began to swivel.

“He had great rhythm,” Pelletier said.

Consummate artist

Cardin and Pelletier agreed that when people were getting tattoos, McIntosh served as a therapist through the process. They said he made people feel safe and they calmed down as the needle touched their skin.

Bryan (Leia Cardin’s brother) and Hana Cardin remembered their brother-in-law as their two children, Darby, 6, and Finnley, 10 months, played with their cousins in the next room.

“I met Jeremy when I was 18 and getting my first tattoo,” Hana Cardin said. “He introduced me to his friends and Leia, and eventually, to my husband, Bryan. I have two beautiful children today because I met Jeremy.”

Her son, Darby, said he loved working with “Uncle Jeremy,” getting paper to start a fire or helping him put wood in the stove.

“I got to watch him make a piece of armor,” Darby said. “Not everyone could go in his shop, but I could. It was really good. I was his buddy until he died.”

Hana Cardin said McIntosh loved all that was nerdy. She said comic books, superheroes, mythology and anything Greek or Egyptian were at the top of his list. He also loved doing tattoos that involved those themes.

“Every one of us has at least one of his tattoos,” she said.

His friends and family said he was the consummate artist, using different textures and colors, and leaving his comfort zone to do whatever someone wanted.

“He loved things that weren’t familiar, that were a challenge,” his wife said.

For instance, he had a hard time transitioning from doing tattoos with dark, distinct borders to ones that had none, but he did it after working long and hard at it.

McIntosh’s friend Chris Grinnell said she has five or six large tattoos by McIntosh.

“I met him when I was 17, and we became fast friends,” she said. “He was incredibly loyal, smart, foul-mouthed and creative, and not necessarily in that order. He wasn’t incredibly flexible, but if you needed him, he was there.”

Everyone agreed that McIntosh’s hugs were the best.

“He had a very comforting hold,” Hana Cardin said.

“You never got a short hug,” Leia Cardin said. “On our first date, he asked for a hug, and I wasn’t sure when he was going to let go. His hugs were spiritual.”

What they’ll miss most

Leia Cardin said she’ll miss her and her husband’s inside jokes and the fact that her children won’t grow up with their father, while Pelletier said it will be the comfort of just being around him.

His friend Kyle Helbig said he’ll miss his sense of humor.

“Jeremy called me an idiot when I went to him for my first tattoo,” Helbig said. “I wanted it over my rib cage. He was right — I was an idiot,” referring to the pain involved. “But since then, there have been so many memories.”

Hana Cardin said she’ll miss his kindness and gentle voice.

“He would hold Finn, and Finn would fall asleep listening to his voice,” she said. “He was the ‘baby whisperer.’”

Leia Cardin said she’ll even miss that whenever they went anywhere, there would be a barrage of people wanting to talk with him about work.

“He was a devoted friend, and we’ll never forget him,” one friend yelled out as everyone else in the room shook their heads “yes.”

“He was colorful,” Leia Cardin said. “He was Jeremy.”

Reach Anita Fritz at
413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.

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